Sustainable Cities and Interdisciplinary International Education

Project Status
August 09, 2017

National Science Foundation (NSF) #1243535


University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Expanding Urbanization, Education, and Human Futures
CEES PIRE Video 1 Thumbnail Image
NSF funded Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant on "Developing Low-Carbon Cities in the USA, China & India through Interdisciplinary Integration Across Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences & Public Health"

The NAE’s Center for Engineering, Ethics, and Society (CEES) participated in an NSF Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant led by Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota) that focused on “Developing Low-Carbon Cities in the USA, China & India through Inter-Disciplinary Integration Across Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences & Public Health.” This PIRE project has developed a transformative international research, education and outreach program to assist in the development of low-carbon, resource-efficient and healthy cities in the US, China and India.

The NAE CEES’s contribution to the project focused on holding two workshops.  First came a planning workshop in the Spring of 2013 to help the project develop the global and international perspectives and understanding necessary to initiate successful research-based curricula on sustainable cities. This 2.5 day workshop connected ethics, sustainability education, and international/global education. The NAE Online Ethics Center also compiled a list of educational resources on the topics and conducted video interviews of participants.

The second two day workshop in the Summer of 2015 reviewed project results and also highlighted the ethical and social consequences of increasing urbanization, through the lens of urban history and changing educational needs. The workshop initiated a science-policy dialogue to explore key urban infrastructure transformations in China, India and the US that can contribute to reducing global carbon emissions while addressing local environmental priorities of water and food security, air pollution, solid waste management, and inclusive well-being.

In addition to the NAE’s Rachelle Hollander, and Anu Ramaswami at the University of Minnesota, the PIRE partners include Marian Chertow (Yale), Ted Russell (Georgia-Tech), Paty Romero-Lankao (National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR), and Chris Weible (University of Colorado Denver).

The PIRE project maintains a blog with project announcements and posts from students about their experience participating in the program, at The conference video “Expanding Urbanization, Education, and Human Futures” highlights remarks from the workshop session about the ethical challenges in addressing urbanization, and the power of interdisciplinary, cross-cultural education and fieldwork in responding to the challenges.

For details on the interdisciplinary education program, an article in The Bridge provides an overview along with preliminary results from the 2013 and 2014 summer programs in India and China. Updates about the education program are also available on the OEC.